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Friday, March 1, 2019

Are Digital Nomads Wasting Their Lives Sheckelling?

What's sheckelling? I came across this word recently and I believe it's the term for somebody who works their ass off trying to make a few cents here and there online. I guess it comes from the word for Israel's currency, and the fact that in popular culture Jews are thought of as being good at making money.

Anyway, this blog post was inspired by Roosh V's amazing Roosh Hour #34 - "Man Up" show live streamed on the 24th February 2019. Watch it below:

It's 2.5 hours of essential listening for any red pilled Happier Abroader, or for anyone else who wants to improve their lot in life.

At the 23 minutes mark he comes round to the topic of Digital Nomadism:

that's for people who have an internet business and decide to travel for ever and for ever because it's better than being stable

Roosh is the master of saying it like it is.

Anyway, he shows us a video from a 35 year old German digital nomaddess who is starting to question her lifestyle because she's "starting" to run out of time to have kids.

I used "starting" a couple of times in the previous paragraph because as Roosh points out, she doesn't have much of a plan. In fact she comes across as really having no plan at all.

She says she's so deep into her travelling lifestyle that she can't meet people. She spends 2 months here, 2 months there. I guess she has to keep making visa runs, because she's too much of a short term thinker to get a longer term residency permit. So by the time she meets somebody it's too late because the next day she's off to the airport to fly some place else.

Not that she has much time to meet people (whereever she is), because she's too busy doing "media stuff" on her MacBook and trying to grow her business.

Roosh: "Can someone tell her the bad news".

We shouldn't single her out because she's not alone. Uh, bad choice of word because she is alone due to all that nomadding. But she's not alone in a sense because digital nomads are legion in some parts of the world. When I lived in Bangkok I found it funny that Starbucks was always full of digital nomads:

I used to imagine that every single one of them was blogging about blogging about Thailand.

That was six years ago.

How many of them are still making money today? How many of them ever made any money at all?

I've noticed that a couple of dating site guides made by digital nomadders have now gone offline. The KingsOfThailand and CupidsLibrary sites used to be pretty good, but now they're gone. I don't know if the former site ever made much money, but I know the latter did.

So maybe it was all a waste of time and the former site owners are back in farangland selling car insurance from some grey slab of a call centre building.

Online is dead.

Sure, you might be able to start a new online business from scratch.

Then again you could just as soon make some decent income by buying some lottery tickets instead.

I think the odds of winning the lottery are lower than they are for establishing a profitable website from scratch.

Am I right?

Check out the Niche Site Project 4 that's been going on over at Niche Pursuits.  Of all the participants only one has made more than $1000 in a single month. And this guy has a team of software developers working on his site, so that means it's highly unlikely that he's making any money at all.

All of the others are just sheckelling - like Ben who made $23.53 with a 48 page site, or Andrew who made $7.07 with a 75 page site. And there's Jobe, who after 3 months of building his site made precisely $0.54 in an entire month. That won't even pay for the electricity his MacBook Pro consumes.

Again, online money making is dead.

I pretty much gave up with the whole making money online thing back in 2015. Now I just build websites for fun. Like this morning I built this map of Thailand showing how many Thai Cupid ladies there are in each province. Now I'm writing this blog post. Nobody reads this blog and I'm not going to make any money from this post. I just wanted some essay writing practice so I can improve my teaching of English writing.

In the past I used to worry about how much money I made online each month. In 2014 I got banned by PayPal and I thought it was the end of the world. Now I would give zero fucks about what their call centre drones decide to do with my account. Here's my income summary for February 2019:

  • Teaching job salary: $1600 (54.9% of total income)
  • Apartment rental income: $650 (22.2%)
  • Investment dividends: $490 (16.8%)
  • Online income: $175 (6.1%)
Total: $2915

Guys - the internet is over. If you want to make money, then look elsewhere!

I'll also point out here that February isn't a great month for dividends - I made $1125 in January. Also, while my online income has shrunk by 12% a year since 2012, my dividend income is actually increasing by 10% a year (that's assuming no new money is being invested, which isn't the case). My rental income is also growing year on year.

Also bear in mind that I've been making websites since forever. I can do everything myself, so I hardly ever have to spend money outsourcing.

Sure, you could in theory still make money by being a digital nomad. If you already had an established business that's relatively location independent then that could work.

But the digital nomads' favourite location of South East Asia is a pretty terrible place to be if you have international clients, or want to freelance for your current or previous employer. Living in East Asia is a lonely existence. We're the first people to wake up, and by the time most of the world has started to think about making lunch, we're pretty much cooked for the day.

If you want to digital nomad and be in contact with clients then you've really got no choice but to work in the evenings. Which means that your social life will really suffer.

It might be better if you have your own income producing websites. For example maybe you're like Winston and you made a site 50 years ago and it's still around today. Then you might have a steady income stream. But I'm sure even Winston must be squeezed as dating site affiliate earnings shrink year on year. For example last year I paid $132 for an annual China Love Cupid subscription. This year I think I'll make do with TanTan, which is just $12 for the entire year. Or I could spend a couple of bucks on a Roosh book and improve my game so I wouldn't have to use these darned dating apps at all.

Are there any alternatives to digital nomadding? Here's two things you could do instead.

1. Hold Your Horses

So you're in your teens or twenties. You want to go abroad and check out the dating scene (if you're a dude then why else would you go abroad?). What do you do?

My advice is to get a career going. Sure I am a TEFL teacher now. Before that I was a software developer. It was a great career for stacking coins.

Most of the teachers I work with have had "proper" careers. Or they've been "proper" teachers. In fact one TEFL teacher I worked with last semester quit the game and now has a job working for a media company in Asia. That's got to be better than digital nomadding. He has a lovely apartment, a regular salary and a residency permit which means he never has to do visa runs.

If you absolutely must go travelling in your early 20's then by all means get a TEFL job. But get a job somewhere you can make some decent money. Read up on compound interest and rental property so that even if you don't manage turn ad-hoc TEFL jobs into a career, it's OK because you don't need to work for an employer anymore. Ben Teaches English Overseas is a good YouTube Channel to subscribe to if you want to learn how to maximise your income while TEFL'ing.

Stashing money away really does work, and the younger you start the better. How you earn the money doesn't matter. It doesn't even matter what you invest in or what the interest rate is. The amount of time you stay invested is key.

My war chest keeps growing:

There are plenty of ups and downs along the way, but the general trend is up.

The only time it took a major hit was when I put cash into my rental property.

In fact I've got so good at stashing cash away that if you look closely at 2013 you'll see I largely broke even while I was in China and Thailand for a year.

2. UnDigital UnNomadding

I call this idea UnDigital UnNomadding. Basically there are two rules: stay in one place, and don't rely on the Internet as a source of income.

As you might know I quit my boring cubicle job in early 2013 and went to live in China. Well I soon got fed up with that place and turned a fortnight's holiday in Thailand into a 6 month extended stay.
As far as dating went the best time I had was those first 4 months I spent in China. Because I'd just quit my job, the last thing I wanted to do was to write more code.

So most of my time in China was spent in the offline world. The only time I really went online was to line up some more dates on China Love Cupid, or to troll Odbo on the Happier Abroad forum.

It definitely paid off living in the real world because I did pretty well dating in China. I also started to make a pretty good social circle - again real people not internet people.

If I'd have stayed the course then things could have worked out for me. But in the end events conspired to take me to Thailand.

In Thailand I felt I was ready to spend a bit more time on IT. It was too freaking hot to go out during he day. So I settled into a lifestyle where I coded by day, and dated/partied by night.

I seemed to be turning into a digital nomad.

Usually I worked on my own projects. I did a bit of freelance work but the guy turned out to be a shithead and I had to fix code written by an idiot. In other words, it was just like my old cubicle life I'd given up everything to leave.

Then I worked for a cruel woman (is there any other kind?) who only wanted to pay me for the seconds I spent on the actual task. So when she said "making that image should take you literally 5 seconds", she only wanted to pay me for those 5 seconds.

After those experiences I closed my UpWork freelancer account and never bid for another contract. Instead I did my own thing, which is what I'm happiest doing.

The websites I built in Thailand weren't terribly successful from a financial standpoint. One is now an authority site and gets a stack of traffic but it's proven impossible to monetize. One makes a bit, but not very much. It did well in January, but sales died in February. I let the HappierBackHome domain expire but the content lives on here.

Eventually I was spending so much coding and for little in return that I ended up going back home and coding for a decent salary. I'm glad I did because in the four years after qutting Thailand I achieved the following:
  • Paid off $46,000 in mortgage debt
  • Put $27,000 into high yielding investments
  • Got a 120 hour TEFL certificate and then a CELTA
  • Spent 5 months living in Spain and Germany
  • Got to spend loads of time with my friends and family
  • Worked in both the City of London and City of Westminster
I would have achieved a lot less if I'd have stayed in Thailand. So much for digital nomadding and working ever harder just to stay still.



Back in 2013 I think my plan was a good one. I quit my job and went to live in one place (China). Actually I ended up living in two places (China + Thailand), but that was an unexpected bonus.

Taking a career break worked really well. I focussed on the new opportunities (dating, learning a language, living in another country, having fun) while not having to worry too much about money.

I tried digital nomadding but after a few months realised that I was having to work longer and longer for smaller returns. Heck, I'd have been better off back in the UK earning a decent wage.

So that's exactly what I went and did next.

If you're a digital nomad caught on the treadmill of working harder and harder for smaller returns then wake up and smell the (Starbucks - of course) coffee. Shut down your MacBook and get a plan together. Hopefully that plan will involve doing something in the real world. 

Do you dream of quitting your boring life and travelling the world? Have you wasted countless hours trying to make a few cents from people clicking on ads on your blog? Do you listen to Roosh's Roosh Hour show and think yup, that guy speaks the truth? Does anyone remember Odbo from the Happier Abroad forum? Leave your random thoughts below.


  1. Been saying this for years most men are better of spending the first decade of their lives at home where you know the language, culture, relevant documents,etc. If you city sucks try another US City first: Cities on the Mexican border, cities with a large international airport, good female / male demographics, cities where you vibe better with the locals, etc.
    Then save your money and invest smartly after you've built up your net worth consider living abroad after taking a few vacations.
    If you cannot succeed in the USA what makes you think you'll succeed abroad or online?

  2. I see all these Digital Nomads claim they make $150 to $250 an hour as SEO consultants. Isn't this just bullshit?
    This girl in her blog who has been traveling for 9 years claims she does this to support her travels. What is your thoughts?

  3. I read this post and wondered why you didn't just work in IT in UK then just use the money to travel for several years. Why teach in China. Did you just want to stay in one place?

  4. 17 Command those who are rich how many verses in the bible talk about money
    in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

  5. a type of people who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their life in a nomadic manner.’

    I don’t know about you, but that is confusing to me! The digital nomad meaning is. . .

    ‘someone who is able to work from anywhere and chooses to spend their time travelling around or living abroad for extended periods of time.’

    Like most *buzzwords*, the digital nomad definition is pretty simple.

    Technically, I have been a living as a digital nomad for three years.

    But, I actually only started travelling full-time time in January 2019.

    Over the past year, I have been backpacking about Brazil and am currently working remotely in Argentina.

    I travel while working remotely doing freelance SEO work and running this blog. about us


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